Ready? Aim! Reach people with the right content marketing.
Start with the right message.
A review of B2B websites shows that marketers are really struggling to find the right message, if they can find one at all. So many things can go wrong with a content marketing message!
Do any of these symptoms of an ailing message sound familiar?
- Marketing with no message at all. “No message” is the #1 reason people leave B2B websites, cited by 46% of B2B website users in a survey.
- The opposite problem also occurs: too many messages. Too many messages confuse customers because they can’t tell “what’s in it for me?”
- The message veers around, becoming conflicted and confused as it tries to serve many different masters – such as customers, investors and employees.
- The content marketing message fails to address customers’ burning questions.
- The message grows too long or convoluted – way too complex to share. In the U.S., where the average attention span is about 8 seconds, you need a message that you can share in 7 seconds.
- There’s no internal agreement about what the message should be. Instead, the message is negotiated on the back end, through a tortuously long review process that gets marketing stuck again and again.
Too many companies make the mistake of pushing a message that serves only one stakeholder group at a time. They tell the customers why their product and service is the best, but they miss telling investors why they should buy the stock, and forget to tell employees why they should stick around.
Instead of separate messages for each audience, content marketing really needs a unified message. That’s why you need a 1-page Message Map.
The right content marketing message does all three jobs at once. Because it addresses the needs of all your stakeholders, the right message hits the sweet spot. That’s where your message should be.
As marketers, it’s our job to find the sweet spot in our company’s message. That’s the place where:
- The interests of all your stakeholders converge around a single purpose and message.
- The right message not only gets your point across, but it also shows each of your key audiences what’s in it for them.
- You can simplify, clarify and amplify your message.
Inside that sweet spot, your message is most powerful.
The right message means you’re always saying the right things. Co-created to achieve buy-in and executed consistently, the right message holds immense power.
The right message influences and embraces the needs of your customers, investors, employees, community and third parties such as the news media, industry analysts, bloggers and social media users.
While related functions often work in silos – separate teams for marketing, employee communications and investor relations – silos are not where your audiences really live.
Your employees may also be customers and investors. The best messages transcend silos by communicating what’s in it for everyone.
You may choose, as some CEOs do, to sweet talk only your investors, and neglect the interests of customers and employees. Yes, you can do that, but there’s a high price to pay down the road.
Some executives have learned this lesson the hard way. By focusing a message solely on investors while ignoring customers, they can actually lose customers. The result: a drop in revenue, earnings and stock price.
Ultimately the investor-only message can hurt the very people the CEO was trying to help. Don’t let your company or CEO fall into that trap!
Marketers and communicators hold a great opportunity to help companies and CEOs discover the sweet spot for their unified message. Co-creating a message map is one way to discover that sweet spot.
Once you find your sweet spot, put all your marketing and communications resources behind your single message.
One unified message gives you the power to change your world.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.